The Both Hands Summer Institute is an enlivening and innovative free summer enrichment art program that uses the artistic talents of college students and recent graduates to instruct the teens from diverse demographics from Trenton through different artistic media. In 2011, Ms. Jusu ran First Hand, the pilot of the summer program, for 12 teens learning art theory in five art-based subjects over three weeks. In its second year of program implementation, Both Hands offered six art courses— Poetry/Rhetoric, Photography, Music, Filmmaking, Performance Art and Dance, and Visual Arts as well as Workshops ranging from Yoga to Fashion— to 32 students over six weeks.
The summer program is provided at no cost. However, students are asked to supply their own personal materials (such as journals, notebooks, and writing materials) and cover their own transportation and, on occasion, food. Students do NOT have to provide their own digital equipment (such as cameras or computers) or arts supplies, but are welcome to bring their own if they choose, as supplies are limited. Students are also responsible for covering the costs (including transportation and food) of optional weekend trips.
After school Program
In the fall of 2014, after a year of piloting, and research and development, Both Hands will extend our services to include after-school programming. The afterschool program will be implemented by professionally trained staff and college mentors in fall of 2014. The mentors will recruit disengaged youth directly from the streets, where they are prone to loiter and are most vulnerable, for programs tailored to their needs. Start Quietly Until Emotions Exit Zealously and Efficaciously (SQUEEZE) will engage young males in group discussions and multimedia public art projects. They will confront issues related to domestic turmoil, environmental stress, and personal development. Together, Our Uplift Can Heal (TOUCH) will allow young women to analyze the roles of women in art and society through time and empower them to be leaders in their communities.
Both Hands thrives on and strongly believes in the following system of operation to ensure quality and effective programming for each of our participating teens:
MENTORSHIP: The minds behind Both Hands attribute most of their developmental maturation to the mentorship programs with which they have been actively involved during high school and even in their institute of higher learning. From our research and tests, when a teen spends significant time with positive and inspiring figures, there becomes an apparent attitude and paradigm shift. Importantly, in addition to this paradigm shift, teens gain ability and comfort to then open up to these figures, who value them as more than just “another face,” number, or statistic.
We push for positive reinforcement and strive to make the mentorship provided to the teens as relatable as possible. Most of our teaching staff are young, college-educated adults from Trenton. Many of them come from backgrounds that parallel those of Trenton teens in terms of personal, social, and familial experiences. This direct connection makes the relationship to the teens less condescending and again more direct.
Personal ATTENTION: Maintaining the maximum of a 1:12 student/instructor ratio is essential. From the collective experiences of the staff and Ms. Jusu, individual attention and close and intimate discussion between peers and instructors is necessary when seeking to uphold a meaningful and healthy relationship with students. Specifically, intimate relationships in a holistic standpoint help maintain a healthy and safe learning area in which students can reach their optimum potential.
Artistic THERAPY: Our process celebrates creativity in life by transforming difficult situations into inspiration and products of possibility. We encourage the teens to approach all things consciously and empathetically and permit open discussion that will incite multiple perspectives. In doing this, we believe (and have proven) that students’ worlds become more tolerant, optimistic, and free to be explorative.
Character BUILDING: In addition to this new and more tolerant scope, students develop confidence from their discovery of a talent that they are not aware they possess. Students with prior experience with art develop a newfound pride in enhancing and perfecting their skills. Both Hands’ purpose is to provide several channels of possibility for students to explore and find a niche in which he or she is talented, interested, confident, and/or ready to further explore.